By Bimbola Oyesola
With an estimated 25 million Nigerians now living overseas, dealing in export of food items may be another big opportunity for Nigerians who want to start small export business.
Besides being a good avenue to reap millions for an individual entrepreneur, for the government, it is another way of earning the hard earned foreign exchange which has forced the economy into recession.
Though some Nigerians are in the business, a visit to some of these European countries and United States of America showed that Nigerians abroad are still in dire need of these foodstuffs.
A few African shops managed by other nationals have limited foodstuffs from Nigeria at exorbitant prices. The beauty of this however is that you can actually start small as capital is not the major thing, but the right information, the necessary contacts, great planning, organisational skills as well as determination to succeed.
You can do this by targeting individuals who are interested in local food items. So, registering a company may not be necessary. The first thing is to find out from a relative abroad what kinds of local delicacies are in demand. Also Nigerians living in Europe and the US have a great degree of expertise about the complex market out there, so it is expedient to have good communication with them.
Though one can start small, but to be on the safe side as it is a business that has a good opportunity to expand if one gets it right, there is need to incorporate a limited liability company, register with Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), have an e-mail address, a mobile phone, register your company and a domiciliary account with a bank.
It is also important to have a NAFDAC licence as well as vital information of the tax system. After this, the new entrants will identify where to source such produce locally.For food products to do well, a combination of good marketing and attractive packaging, is a must together with quality produce. It is also essential for the would be exporters to have local training to reduce losses incurred by Nigerian exporters due to non-compliance with health standards on food produce exports. Below are lists of Nigerian foodstuffs that can be exported: smoked catfish, beans flour, melon seed (egusi), dried pepper, okra, palm oil (red oil), honey, shea butter, ofada rice, palm kernel shell, garri, ogbono, cassava flour, bitter leaf, dried ugwu leaf (pumpkin), ukazi leaf, crayfish.
However, if you are just starting food stuff export business, it is advisable that you start small. Don’t deal in heavy food commodities. Stick with light food items and condiments such as (melon, ugwu, red oil, ogbono, seasonings, smoked catfish, noodles etc) that will generate a good return on your investment. Start with air freight. When you become established you may start exporting other foods through sea. You can send food items to your relatives abroad to help you sell.
They understand how it works over there better and will be able to sell to owners of African food stores and their friends especially when the commission is attractive.New policies on commercial quantities of smoked fish in the EU has however reduces the amount of catfish export to this region. However personal exports (not over 20kg) are still allowed.
This has created a big investment opportunity for Africans who are interested in exporting smoked fish to Europe. All you need to do is get customers and send your consignments in units not exceeding 20kg using air freight.
The following steps are equally important for starters:Join An Export Agency. Ideally, popular places where food stuff exporters look for buyers is to register with export promotion companies and organizations. These organizations develop export trade, provide loans and grants and help to facilitate marketing by buying up small export units and providing relevant international export guidelines. Here in Nigeria, you can join the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).
Sell Online The world is global, so even without a physical shop, you can still sell foodstuff to people. Create an online store and integrate it with common payment gateways. Upload very attractive pictures and leave functional contacts. Your business is now online 24/7.
Networking Informing your friends online through social networks and offline is a giant step in creating marketing opportunities for your business. Tell your contacts to share your information with friends and create a blog or page for your business online. Open a facebook account, Instagram and others are vital tools in this age of technology.
General Electric to invest $150m in Nigeria
United States industrial firm General Electric plans to invest around $150 million in Nigeria by 2017.
“There are development projects where we are investing,” Jay Ireland, chief executive of General Electric in Africa told the FT Africa Summit in London. GE would also invest in oil and gas industry projects.
Growth in Nigeria – an OPEC member whose economy, the largest in Africa, is in recession for the first time in more than 20 years due to low oil prices – has been stunted for decades by a lack of investment in its road and rail network.
Ireland said the Nigeria investment was part of a plan to spend $2 billion in Africa in coming years.
But the $150 million Nigerian investment falls short of the sum Nigeria’s government has said GE would invest.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday in a speech marking Nigeria’s independence day, said GE was “investing $2.2 billion in a concession to revamp, provide rolling stock, and manage” some of the country’s railway lines.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it will pursue price stability as an anchor for economic growth and attract foreign investors as the country battles recession and rising inflation, its governor said in a magazine interview.
In September the bank left its benchmark rate at 14 percent, resisting calls from the finance minister to lower borrowing costs to help the government borrow more domestically without increasing its debt servicing costs.
It has said it will keep interest rates tight to attract foreign currency and resolve a chronic dollar shortage brought on by a slump in oil prices.
“The central bank does not reckon that curbing inflation, attracting foreign investors and supporting growth are mutually exclusive objectives,” Governor Godwin Emefiele told The Banker magazine, in the interview published on Saturday.
“The bank will continue to ensure that its decisions not only consider price and financial system stability, also issues of employment and growth.”
The central bank has said policymakers will need to act together on fiscal, monetary and trade policies to jump start growth, and that interest rate cuts alone will not help pull Nigeria out of its first recession in 20 years.
Past rate cuts have not spurred credit growth as the banking system did not respond to the move, the bank said.
Rising inflation – which hit a more than an 11-year high of 17.6 percent in August – was not due to excess money supply but was the result of government policies that included a hike to electricity tariffs and fuel prices and a currency floatation which meant the naira fell 30 percent in one day.
Nigeria’s National Economic Council, composed of former presidents and state governors, has urged the central bank to introduce “special monetary policy dictated by consumer price and exchange rate”.
Emefiele said he was optimistic about the economy despite the headwinds. The government has tripled spending on infrastructure in this year’s budget while widening the tax base to generate income. However securing foreign loans to support the budget will be key, he told The Banker.
The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) board will this month consider approving a first, $1 billion, loan to Nigeria to cover this year’s budget deficit, its president, Akinwumi Adesina, said last week..